A HIKE in the cost of gas and electricity will deal a blow to already-worried East Lancashire pensioners, according to a charity boss.

British Gas has announced it will increase prices by six per cent from next month, meaning the the average annual bill will increase by around £80 to £1,238.

Rival fuel company SSE, which trades as Southern Electric, Swalec and Scottish Hydro, is due to increase tariffs by 9 per cent Monday, hitting about five million electricity customers and 3.4 million gas customers.

Vicky Shepherd, deputy chief officer of Age UK Blackburn with Darwen, said pensioners could be worse hit than most.

She said: “I know a lot of local older people are concerned about the cost of fuel bills already, so this news is only going to increase their concern.

“Pensioners are living on a fixed income and to find that extra money might mean they have to cut back on other expenditure. For some people, it might mean turning the heating off when it really should be on.

“Pensioners do get help from the Winter Fuel Payment, and everyone is very grateful for that, but potentially, the average cost increases are more for older people as they tend to be less mobile and stay inside the house more, and they are more likely to have a health condition meaning that they need to keep warm.”

Explaining the price rise, Phil Bentley, the British Gas managing director, said: “Britain’s North Sea gas supplies are running out, and British Gas has to pay the going rate for gas in a competitive global marketplace.

”Furthermore, the investment needed to maintain and upgrade the national grid to deliver energy to our customers’ homes, and the costs of the Government’s policies for a clean, energy-efficient Britain, are all going up.”